Following Spotify and Rdio’s decision to eliminate time limits from their free streaming Web services and Kim Dotcom launching his music streaming service Baboom, Dr. Dre’s Beats released its own version of the music streaming app for iOS ahead of its Web launch. Called Beats Music, the app emphasizes music that’s relevant to you and hand-curated playlists.
How Beats Music Works
When you load up Beats Music, it will ask you to select music you like and eliminate music you don’t. Then when your landing screen (called “Just For You”) loads it will be equipped with albums, playlists and bands Beats thinks you will like.
If you’re not sure what you feel like listening to, Beats offers a few options to feed your vague appetite. Swipe to the Highlights section to discover new music and artists that might not yet be on your radar. The Sentence is a place where you complete a Mad Libs-esque phrase that demonstrates what mood you’re in and what you happen to be doing. Beats’ Find It section lets you find a ready-made playlist based on a genre, activity or curator.
Unlike other services, Beats emphasizes hand-curated playlists over algorithmically designed sounds.
The $9.99 Sweet Spot
Like on Spotify, Rdio and Google Play Music All Access, a Beats Music subscription will cost you $9.99 a month (unless you’re an AT&T customer who signs up for a family plan). Unlike other services, though, Beats will offer no free streaming option; if you want in, you’ve gotta pay. Currently the service offers a free 7-day trial, but will that be enough to hook users or, even more difficult, convert longtime users of Spotify and Rdio? Probably not. Beats’ best shot at gaining user traction is by bundling its service with other products; Ellis Hamburger at The Verge, for example, suggests Beats should offer several free months of service to anyone who buys a pair of Beats headphones in the hopes that they’ll convert to a paid Beats user afterward. Building partnerships with other businesses to model its $14.99/month family plan offer for AT&T customers could also give Beats an edge over competitors.
In the music streaming wars, winning will come down to which service gives users quickest access to the songs they want to hear everywhere they go. While all services say they offer this, music streaming apps need to work on their offline compatibility and to build better products for other devices like smart TVs and cars before they will truly be the ultimate take-anywhere music streaming app. And what matters in the end is this: Will you pay to use the service?
Download Beats Music for iOS and start your free trial: